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Surviving the Game

Review by: 
Suicide Blonde
Release Date: 
New Line
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Ernest Dickerson
Rutger Hauer
Charles S. Dutton
Gary Busey
Bottom Line: 

Homeless guy Mason (Ice-T with natty dreads) isn’t having a good day. He hasn’t found anything in the trash cans worth eating, his dog got hit by a van, and his friend, Drunk Guy Who Occasionally Spouts Wisdom, just died. Some days, it just doesn’t pay to crawl out of the dumpster.
Mason thinks his luck is improving when a mission worker (Charles S. Dutton, taking the trouble to act) puts Mason in touch with Burns (paunchy yet somehow still creepy and sorta handsome Rutger Hauer), who runs a wilderness outfit and will take Mason on for an only vaguely-described job. But Mason’s in for a rude awakening when he finds himself in yet another ripoff of The Most Dangerous Game, and has to flee through the picturesque Washington woods to elude a bunch of rich assholes who are jaded enough to think hunting humans is fun.
I don’t need to describe the rest of the plot because you know it already. Will Mason prove to be wilier than his pursuers think? Will one of the hunters have a change of heart? Will there be smitings and comeuppance? Will Mason reveal the tragic events that made him homeless?  Will a big light appear in the eastern sky tomorrow morning?
What Surviving the Game lacks in surprises it makes up for in being a sort of cinematic comfort food. The gorgeous Washington forest serves as a lovely backdrop. The cast is enthusiastic and just oddball enough to lift the movie a cut above the ordinary. Ice-T has limited range as an actor but what he has works well for him here. Hauer lets his icy charm do most of the work but it’s enough to save him from embarrassment. Dutton puts in the best performance and consequently ends up being the most loathsome of the hunters. Gary Busey is, well, Gary Busey – ‘nuff said. Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham is slumming it here, and it’s one of the more surreal sights of the film to see Salieri duking it out with Ice-T. Some other guy shows up as Salieri’s wussy son, and That Guy From “Scrubs” is on hand as a somewhat unhinged hunter.
It’s the cinematic equivalent of a big bag of potato chips. You’ll be entertained for 90 minutes and you won’t have to use your brain once.
Extras are minimal – a trailer and cast and crew profiles.

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